Friday, January 3, 2014

The Battle of the St. Mary's (Last Battle of the War of 1812) - Georgia & Florida

Sailing Vessel on the St. Mary's River
Although numerous engagements have claimed the distinction, current research indicates that the Battle of the St. Mary's on the border of Florida and Georgia was the last land battle of the War of 1812.

Fought on February 24, 1815, the battle involved British Royal Marines and sailors, riflemen from the U.S. Army and revolutionaries from Spanish Florida.  The encounter took place when, even though he already knew of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent that ended the war, Rear Admiral George Cockburn sent a party of barges and boats up the St. Mary's River on one final raid.

Carrying 52 Royal Marines and commanded by Commander Charles George Rodney Phillot of HMS Primrose and Commander David Ewen Bartholomew of HMS Erebus, the seven barges and one gig were ordered to break up the American outpost of Camp Pinckney near present-day Folkston, Georgia.  They almost made it.

St. Mary's River
When the little flotilla was with 3/4 mile of its objective, a force of "Patriot" revolutionaries opened fire from the Florida shore.  Florida was then a colony of Spain and the Patriots were trying to seize control of the future U.S. state from its Spanish leaders.

Captain William Mickler soon joined in the fight with 20 U.S. soldiers from the Georgia shore and both American soldiers and Patriot riflemen poured tremendous volleys of fire on the British vessels, which were caught in the middle of the St. Mary's River. By the time the British made it back to their ships off Cumberland Island, they had been badly bloodied.

The Battle of the St. Mary's took place after the Battle of New Orleans, Second Battle of Fort Bowyer and the Battle of Point Petre (Point Peter), all of which have been recognized as the final battle of the War of 1812 by various historians.  So far as is known, it was the last exchange of fire between American and British forces.

To read about this fascinating engagement, please visit

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